Festive party season is upon us and everyone is searching for that perfect place for their work/friends Christmas dinner. If you fancy something a little different then booking a Peruvian fusion Christmas menu could be just what you need.
At first glance they may not seem Christmassy in a traditional British sense of the word but by using a combination of great British and Peruvian ingredients they truly make a feast. And after all, isn’t that what food at Christmas is all about? Sharing it family style and feasting to celebrate the wintertime. It all sounds delicious to me.
Peruvian food is also a fab option if you have a vegetarian in your party as the cuisine has so many options to choose from. Gluten free diets are also catered to as well!
I’ve not tried any of these specific menus (they are just suggestions for you), but I have chosen restaurants that I have actually visited over the last few years, so that I know how great the quality and ambience is!
So, without further ado let me give you some feasting contenders….
CEVICHE (Old Street & Soho)
(picture from http://www.cevicheuk.com/christmas)
Ceviche, the brainchild of Martin Morales, has 2 branches and each are serving up different sharing menus with 2 options at each location (one for £38pp and one for £50pp). The menus are made up of 3 courses plus snacks at the start and every course contains vegetarian options and all courses, apart from the dessert, have gluten free options. The main event is on the £50pp menu in both restaurants and it’s wild boar with Peruvian chillis and pomegranate molasses. Sounds amazing right?! Other highlights for me at Old Street include the Aji de Pavo tequeños (creamy cheesy turkey mixture inside wonton wrappers and fried), anticucho seasoned liver parfait with chancaca honey (a really dark honey, kind of treacly, perfect for the festive season) and tiradito de lenguado (sole) with pink grapefruit. The desserts all look amazing too! In the Soho branch, I’m loving the inclusion of cassava (or ‘yuca’ here in Peru) and corn cake, but the desserts are the festive offerings here. One is panetón (panettone), one has Peruvian chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream and one has pisco cherries with cinnamon. Yum!
Check out the menus for both restaurants here.
Ceviche Soho – 17 Frith Street, London W1D 4RG // Ceviche Old Street – 2 Baldwin Street, London EC1V 9NU
The next two restaurants are also from the Martin Morales empire. First up….
Again, Andina has a sharing menu, so you’ll have 3-4 courses plus snacks dependent on your chosen menu. Like Ceviche there are 2 options, a £38pp menu and a £50pp menu. The £50pp menu has the showstopper dish of Peruvian coffee and cacao marinated British venison; a true British-Peruvian fusion dish! Both menus have vegetarian and gluten free options.
Festive highlights on the £38 menu look like the Ceviche Andina with aguaymanto (physalis/goldenberry) which for me always feels like a celebratory, decorative fruit! Then the Pato Sampa, which is duck breast with sweet potato puree, and then the dessert of lúcuma, gingerbread and cranberry
The classic ceviche will be such a winner. A proper Peruvian dish. Not overly festive, but perfect for summer here in Peru and that’s our Christmas season so…….
From the £50 menu, aside from the venison, a fave would definitely be the chips with huancaina (I can’t live without this sauce, it’s a delight). A couple of festive options look like the pork belly (a Christmas season favourite of mine) with corn puree and peanut sauce, and then the repollo saltado (stir fry) with sautéed brussel sprouts and pisco soaked raisins, plus the dessert of chicha (a drink made from pineapple, purple corn, cinnamon and cloves) rice pudding with cinnamon. Plus, I like the sound of the salad of bacon, purple potato and lúcuma cream, and the confit squash and praline dessert. So much choice!!
Check the menu here!
Andina – 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E27DJ
This is the last Peruvian style restaurant visit I made when I was in London and it was fabulous. I highly recommend it!
Just like the last 2, at Casita Andina there are 2 sharing menu options, a £38pp and a £50pp. There are also vegetarian and gluten free options throughout the menu and the Peruvian coffee and cacao rubbed venison is available on the £50pp menu too!
The £38 menu has the Classic Ceviche I saw on Andina’s menu above and also the saltado (stir fry) with brussel sprouts. I can also actually recommend the Aji de Gallina (yellow chilli and chicken stew pictured above) as I ate that when I visited in August. I’m really loving the look of the updated seasonal San Blas salad that will include charred fig, caramelised pecan and a rocoto chilli and cranberry dressing. It’s full of popular Peruvian ingredients (aside from the cranberry) but also festive flavours that we’re used to in the UK. I also don’t think you can ever go wrong with crackling pork belly so the Pork Shambar should be a hit!
The £50 menu sounds amazing and I genuinely want to try the whole thing! The aubergine fries and the Liver Croquettes (I’ve tried these and they are delicious) have such Christmassy flavours, and the crackling pork belly is there again too. The rice pudding with cinnamon is back, but this time with the Choco-Sauco dessert which I think is completely different from when I tried it as it now has cherry and chocolate crumble. Still sounds scrumptious though!
Check the menu here! (scroll to the bottom two pages)
Casita Andina – 31 Great Windmill Street, Soho, London, W1D 7LP
Now onto 2 offerings from Virgilio Martinez, the fantastic chef and owner of Central in Lima, winner of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 and 4th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016. Both are called Lima, but one is Lima Fitzrovia (after the area it’s located in) and the other is Lima Floral (after the street that flanks the side of the restaurant).
Neither of his restaurants do sharing menus, so you have to make choices from the set menus they give you.
Lima (Fitzrovia) is another Peruvian fusion restaurant I would absolutely recommend. I loved my Sunday lunch I had a couple of years ago and you can read all about that here and see the photo above. This ceviche is NOT included in the Christmas menus but it’s so gorgeous that I couldn’t not include it as an example of their food!
They actually have two styles of menu; Amazon and Andes. Both have 4 courses and cost £55 for lunch and £62 for dinner (which has an added abreboca/amuse bouche). I don’t know if the dishes are vegetarian or gluten free so its best to check with the restaurant before booking.
An Amazon menu highlight for me is the Lomo Steak Huancaina. As I said before I absolutely love huancaina sauce (cheesy, yellow chilli sauce) and this time it comes with fillet steak pieces. Delish. The Lamb Cutlets with lavender, coffee and aguaymanto (physalis/goldenberry) also sounds really interesting. The Clay Baked Potato has chestnuts (super seasonal) and red & green quinoa (how cool!), and then the desserts all have a festive flavour with either port in the suspiro meringue, chancaca (the treacly honey) in the alfajores, or ginger in the lúcuma ice cream. Lovely!
The Andes menu also has the Lomo Steak Huancaina (woohoo!) but also a beef pachamanca which is a style of cooking that I’m a big fan of. A pachamanca is a dish traditionally cooked in an oven under the ground (similar to a traditional New Zealand hangi), so I’m not sure how this will be done in the restaurant. It would be really interesting to see though. The desserts are the same as the Amazon menu and sound so delicious!
Check the menus here!
Lima Fitzrovia – 31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1JH
This location has a great little bar downstairs that I’ve visited (as you can see above!) but I’ve never actually eaten here. Although my Mum has (a few times) and she recommends it, which is just as good!
Lima Floral is in Covent Garden so it’s in an excellent stop when you visit the ballet at the Royal Opera House, the huge Christmas tree or the many shops that fill the area.
Their menu is a little cheaper at £35 for lunch and £45 for dinner (including an abreboca/amuse bouche) and has 3 courses, plus the abreboca. I don’t know if the dishes are vegetarian or gluten free so it’s best to consult with the restaurant before booking. It all sounds really delicious and I want so many of the dishes. For example, the Suckling Pig with mandarin compote (oh my god), the Black Cod with camu camu juice (my favourite fruit – it has an acidic flavour like passionfruit), then the dessert of pumpkin and sweet potato fritters with chancaca honey (also known as picarones – very seasonal flavours). Yum!
Check the menu here! (You can also check out the New Year’s menu for both restaurants too.)
Lima Floral – 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BJ
The Christmas menu is £35pp and comes with 3 courses plus snacks. This whole menu just screams festive fun and Christmas flavours. I just love the fusion bringing British Christmas traditions and Peruvian ingredients and dishes together. There are a couple of vegetarian and gluten free options, but you could ask staff for any further dietary help if you want to book.
Pavo a la Brasa is a marinated and grilled turkey (Peruvian style) which comes with traditional pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon) but with a Peruvian twist of a chancaca glaze (the Peruvian treacly honey). Plus, there are brussel sprouts (a very British Christmas accompaniment) with chorizo. This isn’t festive, but the menu has sweet potato fries with huancaina sauce which I just desperately need in my life. I also love that they have pork belly chicharron (a Peruvian favourite of mine) with a Chinese 5 spice sauce, which not only gives you hints of the Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian fusion) tradition in Peru, but also so much festive flavour. This is because the spices are similar to what we in the UK put in our food at Christmas (cinnamon, cloves and star anise).
Check out the menu here!
Señor Ceviche – Kingly Court, Soho, London, W1B 5PW
Wow! What a selection of fabulous menus for the festive season! I am so lucky to have incredible Peruvian food right on my doorstep, but I do miss a good old British Christmas shindig with great British ingredients, and these restaurants give you the best of both. I hope one of these options tickles your fancy and you can head off and enjoy an British-Peruvian filled Christmas fiesta!! Salud! Cheers!
Feliz Navidad and Felices Fiestas xxx Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays xxx